Jefferson County names new Quilcene fire commissioner
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Quilcene Fire Department secretary Jean Morris, left, discusses the departmental budget with newly appointed fire commissioner Gary Phillips.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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QUILCENE — One of the vacant positions on the Quilcene Fire District board caused by a successful recall last month has been filled by the Jefferson County commissioners.

They appointed Gary Phillips to fill the term of recalled Commissioner Mike Whittaker.

Once the board convenes, it will name a replacement for Dave Ward, who also was recalled by voters in a Nov. 13 special election.

“We need to put this whole recall thing behind us,” Phillips said Tuesday.

“We have some real problems that we have to deal with.

“We have some budget issues, and we also have the selection of a new chief, which is already in progress.

“We are taking in about $230,000 a year and spending about $320,000,” Phillips added, “so we either have to spend less money or raise taxes.”

Herb Beck, who was elected in 2011, was the sole fire commissioner from the time the recall election was certified Nov. 27 until Phillips was sworn in Monday — a period when no action could be taken by the normally three-member board.

With Phillips' appointment by the county commissioners, the two-member board represents a quorum and can make decisions, such as selecting a third commissioner.

Phillips and Debbie Randall, who served as fire commissioner from 2010 to 2011, when she was defeated by Beck, were the only two applicants for the open position.

During Monday's interview, each praised the other and indicated he or she would apply for the third position if not selected by the three-member Board of County Commissioners.

Phillips was chosen for the breadth of his experience, which includes nine years on the commission from 1990 to 1999, said Jefferson County Commissioner David Sullivan.

Randall, a firefighter for East Jefferson Fire-Rescue, said Phillips will be “a great commissioner” and indicated that she will apply for the third position.

Phillips said an advertisement to fill the third vacancy will be published this week.

Both positions will be on the 2013 ballot.

Should Phillips choose to continue as commissioner, he would run to complete the unexpired term until 2015.

The third commissioner would run for a full six-year term at that time.

The commission is scheduled to hold a budget hearing Dec. 19 and approve the 2013 budget Dec. 27.

Phillips said the third commissioner spot could be filled at the Dec. 19 meeting.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: December 04. 2012 6:05PM
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